Thinking about which homestead animals are best for you and your family? Here are the best animals that should go on your list for consideration!
Whether you’re just starting your homestead, you’ve been homesteading for less than a year, or you’re a seasoned homesteader you know the importance of raising your own homestead animals.
Self-sufficiency is the name of the game, and raising your own animals is part of the process.
Some folks raise them just to have them, but others raise them to eat.
Neither option is wrong, but I definitely think that any animal you bring on the homestead should live a “no moocher” life. Meaning, if they live there, they have to contribute financially.
That can happen in a number of different ways.
Different Homestead Animals to Consider
The animals you bring onto your homestead should be carefully considered for what you’re trying to achieve.
For instance, we know we want chickens because we eat eggs and we eat chicken.
We also want sheep because we eat lamb and I can use the sheepskin to make rugs.
Why Have Animals on Your Homestead
Raising animals can be considered hard work, so why would someone want to raise animals?
- You can raise them for meat
- Or, you can sell them
- You can sell parts of the (poop, fleece, horns, honey, etc)
- Certain animals can keep bugs at bay
- And so much more…
The biggest thing to consider is to not have any freeloaders on the homestead or farm.
Freeloaders are defined by an animal that’s not contributing to earning his/her keep or to the homestead income.
What to Consider When Adding Animals
As with raising any animal, there are things you need to consider before bringing them home.
- Do they have a purpose?
- Do you know how they’ll support themselves or the homestead?
- Will they have enough space?
- Can you feed them properly?
- Are they right for you and your family?
- Do you know how to care for them?
There are many more questions you can ask yourself, but I would definitely sit down and make a plan for each animal you’re going to raise.
For use, we’re hoping to raise sheep, goats, chickens, a dairy cow, and horses. We have talked about meat rabbits, turkey, and even quail, but we’re not set on them just yet.
I know the “maybe” animals could provide for themselves, but it’s more that we don’t want to overwhelm our homestead.
So, that’s something for you to consider as well. It’s all well and good to want “all the things,” but you need to make sure you can handle “all the things” too.
Choosing the Right Animals
Now that you know what questions to ask as you’re thinking about what to add to your homestead let’s go over how to choose the right homestead animals.
Each animal has many different options so it’s best to consider them all when making your decisions.
Top Animals (not in any preference order)
As stated, these aren’t in any specific order, so don’t take this listing as if the top ones are the best and the bottom ones are the not so best.
There is no order and “best animal” needs to be determined individually.
Bees can help to pollinate your crops, provide honey, and even provide wax that you can collect and sell.
I would suggest talking to a local beekeeper before getting started. They’re always willing to help and, in my experience, so friendly. They could talk about beekeeping for hours. (we talked to a couple at the farmers market for I know an hour about beekeeping)
Chickens are actually a winner for any homestead.
You can get eggs, meat, feathers, hatch chicks, and more with chickens.
Ducks are great for eggs and selling ducklings. Spring-time is a really good time for selling ducklings.
Some folks will also eat duck, but I’ve heard it’s an acquired flavor profile.
Many people will eat quail, but you can also sell them so others can raise them for eggs or you can just sell eggs too.
People eat goat meat and raise them for milk.
On top of that, you can sell the offspring also if you’re helping others build their own stock.
The same thing goes for sheep… people will raise them for meat, milk, and another thing people will do is show them.
You can also sell sheepskin rugs! One sheepskin can go for $80-$150 a skin if it’s tanned well.
Cows, in my opinion, are one that needs to be seriously debated. It’s not that they’re hard to care for (they can be, but generally aren’t) they’re just big and require a good size plot of land to raise.
You can get milk, meat, sell babies, and even sell hides.
These little guys are an interesting thing… people will sell babies to families wanting to raise a bunny, they’ll sell them for meat, but also for hides.
Rabbits will have anywhere from 1-14 kits per breeding, so the chances of being profitable are great.
My husband wants a turkey because they can act sort of like an attack dog of sorts.
They’re also great for meat to eat (he he) and you can sell the feathers to folks that make crafts too.
Do you have a bug problem?
Guinea fowl are great at decimating a bug population and keeping your homestead or farm bug-free!
Personally speaking, I don’t really want pigs, but pigs can be profitable to raise.
A sow can successfully deliver up to 10 piglets each pregnancy and can have two litters a year (though I’ve been told breeding a sow once a year is best – still need to research this).
Choose Homestead Animals For Your Family
When it comes down to choosing animals for your homestead, this isn’t the time to keep up with the Jones’. You’ll be raising and caring for another sentient being.
“Less is always more,” applies here in this case.
If you’re just raising animals for yourself it’s ok to have just a handful of animals. You don’t need to raise a large number of animals to be sufficient.
And, you don’t have to buy everything when you’re first getting started either!
Start with 0ne or two and add as you go this way you’re growing slow and you won’t overwhelm yourself in the process.
For example, we already have two horses so that’s what we’re going to prep for first. Then, our friend is sending us chickens and another friend said she would sell us some goat kids. I know horses pretty well so taking on chickens and goats seems completely doable.
After we’re comfy we’ll add sheep probably and honey bees.
Build a lifestyle you want, because no one else is going to live it ;).